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This publication is a contribution the students of Tarrant County College This publication is a contribution fromfrom the students of Tarrant County College and the Trinity River Campus Writing & Learning Center and the Trinity River Campus Writing & Learning Center “An Unshakeable Focus on Student Learning” “An Unshakeable Focus on Student Learning”
Here are a few reasons why TCC Writes.
MOVING F O WA R D
IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU
WHY AM I HERE?
10 Rising Stars 12 Crazy Driver 14 College Is for Losers 16 Leadership & Motivation 20 The Trinity River Campus All-Stars: Hitting it out of the park! 22 All-Stars 2012
23 25 26 30 32 34 35
36 38 40 42 44 52 54
Beta Sigma Mu 2013 When Your Soldier Comes Home It Could Happen To You The Day the Earth Shook Student Warrior In His Hands My Treasure True
Why Am I Here? Let Go Last Call A Short Story Coming Out of the Dark And I Just Bought a Watch Reflections from the River: Student Exhibition
SUPPORT The mission of the Writing & Learning Center is to create, promote, and foster the value, growth, and appreciation of writing.
The Writing & Learning Center
By Steven LeMons
s I found myself totally engaged and immersed in one of my multiple, past due projects where deadlines often find themselves being standard equipment - never ignored, but sometimes being chased up to the last possible minute of their expiration -- I leisurely looked up at the clock only to realize that on this day I should have been on my way home hours ago. However, who’s to say when the creativity bus is going to run? I have to catch it when it arrives, otherwise the expiration of those deadlines become more like killer bees one cannot get rid of. Realizing it truly was time to go, I hastily gathered my things, locked up my workspace, and headed for the garage. As I began taking those steps toward my car, I realized that there was something incredible about this campus. Although its original intent was not a college campus, since becoming one, it has gained something of an almost spiritual nature. The truth of the matter is, it is really more about the collection of people who help create the Trinity River culture, than about the aesthetics of the building itself. However, as I walked down Main Street, shoe-heels rhythmically echoing in a slightly delayed cadence to my hurried footsteps, I could really appreciate the beauty and sophistication of the Trinity River campus and experience.
When you think about it, the learning and discovery energy existing here is not only intoxicating, but addictive. Walking past the bookstore and looking up at the spiraling, yet visually stunning light sculpture hanging from the ceiling, as well as the sweeping staircase ascending up to the rotunda level, I could not help but wonder, ―How difficult will it be for many students to leave this magical learning institution? How can they leave their friends and professional relationships, their victories in academic achievements, and their personal milestones of self-discovery? All those invaluable experiences which happened right here.‖ As I took the stairs down to level two of the parking garage, my mind then drifted toward the many students who will be receiving degrees or certificates this coming May, as well as those transferring to four-year institutions in the fall. When it comes to leaving Trinity River I can only imagine some of the emotions many of them are currently experiencing. For some, their college experience here at Trinity River has been a breeze. For them, it seemed as though one day they were attending student orientation and listening to speaker after droning speaker talk about the campus and its benefits. Then the next day, it seemed they were ordering regalia. ―Wow, didn’t that time go by fast?‖ Holla! While for another percentage of the student population, the journey has been a bit more treacherous: facing the demons associated with the seemingly overwhelming transition to college, or the challenge of being exposed to an entirely different environment -- one which fueled feelings of self-doubt and all the anxiety of someone who has never known anyone in their family to walk this path before. Their experience of orientation may have consisted of even more questions about college than answers. ―Can I do this? Is this
challenge too big for me? Will I ever graduate? How will I ever get to UTA, UNT, or Texas Wesleyan?‖ However, in a few short weeks, the answers to all these questions were finally laid to rest. Now it is time to vigorously move forward. For every student who has taken this journey and emerged victoriously, we say ―Congratulations!‖ No more fighting for an opening in the Trinity River parking lot, only to find the space you spotted from the corner of your eye just got stolen by the beat up 1985 lime-green Honda Civic before you could get to it. No longer will you have to worry about the professor your friends said was so tough: ―Don’t take his class, he is insane and he will make you that way too. It was because of him I developed this nervous twitch in my face. See!‖ It seems you dodged that bullet after all; making it through without ever having to take his class. You will not have to spend your American Idol time reading endless and what you may perceive as just thick, smelly textbooks, or completing an assignment that seems to be a conspiracy designed just for you, in order to test your strength and resiliency against boredom. And never again will you find yourself having to endure the thick garlic aroma oozing from the Riverfront Café as you rush down Main Street to the parking lot on your way to your job or to pick up your kids. It is all done. This part of the journey is finally over, but what now? What lies ahead and how do you move forward without forgetting the best of your past? First, enjoy the moment, you have definitely earned it. For some, like the Starship Enterprise, you have boldly gone where no relative has gone before. One student shared with me that he even places his cap and gown on his bed and just stares at it. He then puts it on and plays “Pomp and Circumstance” from YouTube while practicing what he refers to as his graduation walk. I’m not sure if that is your ritual, but for many, wearing a cap and gown and being a graduate is a dream come true, so enjoy every aspect of the commencement or transfer process. Second, please remember that no one ever achieves any degree of success alone. Regardless of how large or small, it is through the contribution of others who helped make the difference in your life that this experience is possible. Always remember those who have encouraged and sometimes challenged you to break free from the fear and even intimidation standing between you and graduation.
Do not forget those selfless individuals who helped build your confidence and made you feel special. Whether it was a professor who constantly expected what seemed like perfection from your work, a writing center tutor who spent endless hours explaining the art of citing sources, a librarian who showed you how to track down the exact research article for your history paper, the advisor who helped you stay on academic track, or the counselor who provided encouraging words at the precise moment of need, please remember, as you walk across the stage, basking in the cheers of family and friends, a part of each of those TCC heroes walks with you. For this reason, the spring theme for TCC Writes is “Moving Forward.” In this issue, we have combined the best of both worlds; in addition to new articles, we are also featuring some of the more popular writings from past issues. While some of these student writers are currently attending Trinity River, we would also like to acknowledge the writing accomplishments of our previous student contributors who have moved on, who by sharing their experiences have helped in making this magazine a success. Throughout this edition, you will see a small icon on the title page of various writings. This icon indicates which past issue the writing was published. Just as you will remember many of the unforgettable people who invested in your Trinity River success, TCC Writes continues to remember and acknowledge the students, faculty, and staff members who invested in its success. As I finally make it through the parking lot and close the door of my car, I share these final thoughts: regardless of the institution you decide to attend, you will encounter some of the same experiences you attempted to avoid here at TCC. Student parking will most likely be scarce, and there will always be students who cut you off in the parking lot while viciously contending for those coveted spaces. You will always encounter instructors who may be labeled as being too hard, too rigid, too mean, too this, or too that. And there will always be thick smelly books which you may perceive to be boring and irrelevant to your life or a degree plan that will still be required reading. But despite all this, stay focused on the new journey. Take advantage of every moment and opportunity. Make new connections by building and maintaining strong professional relationships. When things do not go exactly as you would like, don’t complain; extract the positive lesson and move on. If you should find yourself discouraged, have your pity-party moment, get back up, and keep moving forward. Take every positive lesson, truth, discovery, and moment you have experienced here at TCC and Trinity River, including the encouraging words from those in your past who believed in you, and continue to your next milestone destination. You have begun a life-changing process, do not stop now. Move forward.
Hana Jafarri and Madeline Paddock, are student workers who are both rising stars in the TR Writing & Learning Center.
Stars By Hana Jaafari and Madeline Paddock
n the Trinity River Writing & Learning Center, helping students become better writers is deeply rooted in our mission. Every tutor in the center not only possesses a love of writing but also a passion for student success. However, it has been said by many that for some, ―age is just a number.‖ This cliché does not always hold true in academia, and more specifically at the TR Writing & Learning Center. While most exuberant high school students are focusing on their high school prom or Facebook page, TCC high school age students Madeline Paddock and Hana Jaafari are in the Center, tutoring others many years their senior on essays, research papers, and other writing assignments—remarkably, in addition to being employed in the Center as student workers.
Phi Theta Kappa. Madeline Paddock’s rise to academic success is equally amazing. As the only girl in a family of three brothers, she would often find herself going to the library and checking out an entire section of books on what she refers to as her subject of the day. ―At a very young age, I was writing literary analyses on famous works like the Odyssey and the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass. I developed a snarky and sarcastic literary voice which defined my writing style.‖ Fall 2012 was Madeline’s first semester here at TCC. ―Starting college at a high school age,‖ she says, ―Is natural and necessary in my family.‖ And although Madeline admits that in beginning she found herself a bit intimidated by perceptions of how other students would react to her, once she began attending classes, she found it much easier than she thought to establish strong bonds and relationships with others. When it comes to working in the Writing Center, like Hana, Madeline views the opportunity as one which allows her not only to hone her own writing skills, but also to share valuable expertise by providing a service that benefits her fellow students. ―Every paper and writing style tells a different story, and being able not only to read these stories, but assist in their early stages, is such an exciting opportunity.‖
For nearly two years, Hana Jaafari has been a TCC student and will be attending her final course here in June. Her journey into college began when she had just turned 16. Her high school, Al-Hedayah Academy, formed a Dual Credit Program, which provided opportunities to enroll here at TCC; she jumped at the chance. Even though Hana’s responsibility as a student is split between both high school and college, her grades have not suffered; she still maintains an amazing 4.0 G.P.A. Although in her first semester here at TCC, Madeline is also a proud member of the National English Honor As for involvement, she doesn’t just show up at TCC, Society. Following Hana’s high school graduation in but is an active participant in various activities. In May, she will enroll as a science major in either TCU addition to the demands of her classwork, she has or UTA, with scholarships offered by whichever school still found time to direct two campus-wide events: she finally selects. Congratulations to both Hana and Gradfest and Commit to Complete. And because of Madeline. Thank you for setting such a positive her high G.P.A., she is also Vice President of Leader- example for others by raising the academic bar and becoming our TCC rising stars. ship in Beta Sigma Mu, the Trinity River Chapter of
By Dana Reid
I just wanted to drive. Before he would let me turn the key in the ignition, he gave me a long lecture on how it was important to wear my seatbelt and watch out for other drivers. He also explained to me the bright orange cones in the street were pretend cars, and I should treat them with care. This was small talk to me. Seriously, all I wanted to do was receive my freedom, go where I wanted, and drive off into the sunset.
instantly became hearing impaired when my father was teaching me how to drive. Of course being a teenager, I knew everything, and I was not about to listen to anything he advised. Based on my personal opinion, I could drive better than him and for that matter anyone else. At the time, my parents owned two cars. My father drove what seemed to me a monster truck, and my mother had a beat up soccer mom mini-van. On this particular day he decided it would be best to let me drive the mini-van. Being selfish and materialistic at the time, all I could think about was, “If my friends see me, will they laugh at me?” With all of this running through my mind, my father drove me to the empty streets behind our subdivision where industrial buildings were in their first phase of construction. When we got out of the car, he asked me to stand by the van while he strategically placed bright orange cones in the street. When he was finished, he walked over to me and handed me the manual to the van. I was a little confused as he explained to me that this was one of the most important books and I should and would read it cover to cover. All I thought about was, how a book about a car could be so important. I was here to drive, not read what I thought was a useless book. The first instruction he gave me was to walk around the van and reference the manual. I had to check anything and everything. He also sat me down and had me reference what every button, light, and switch meant on the dashboard. It seemed like hours before I could get to the one thing I really wanted to do. I just wanted to drive. Before he would let me turn the key in the ignition, he gave me a long lecture on how it was important to wear my seatbelt and watch out for other drivers. He also explained to me the bright orange cones in the street were pretend cars, and I should treat them with care. This was small talk to me. Seriously, all I wanted to do was receive my freedom, go where I wanted, and drive off into the sunset. After all was said and done, I received the green light to turn the ignition key. My face lit up like a sparkler. I grabbed the seatbelt and clicked it into place, checked all mirrors, and hit the gas. I suddenly became baffled when the car jolted 10 feet forward with just a small tap of the gas pedal. My body felt like the tiny nerves were having a dance party as I gained sight of what just happened. At first, he seemed patient with me and made me turn the ignition off, and he started his speech over. I rolled my eyes and pretended to listen to every word so I could have his blessing to try it again. The second time was a little better, and he decided I could slowly drive the car to the stop sign and turn left. Everything was going very well until I made the turn. His face immediately turned bright red as he yelled at me like I was miles away. Not only did I not turn my blinker on to signal, but I did the most unfortunate deed. I hit a cone. He scolded me like I had killed someone. With his deep voice he was yelling that I hit the front of the car, and I could have hurt someone or myself. He instructed me to turn the van off, give him the keys, and think about what I just did. For the next fifteen minutes we sat in silence while he covered his face with his hands. I did not dare crack a smile as I looked at him like he was a mad man. Once the mood calmed down, he calmly told me that before we could go any further, I was to do exactly what he said. I knew at this moment, if I ever wanted to get behind another vehicle in my life, I needed to be smart and really pay attention. I listened to his every word. At the end of the lesson I had him smiling. For the last time, he gave me the keys and told me to use better judgment. This time I held my excitement to myself, and I turned the van on. I slowly drove around the block as instructed. When I got to the same stop sign, I turned the blinker on, came to a complete stop, and looked both ways. I even checked my dad’s face a couple of times before I proceeded. At this point, I was pretty impressed that I had gotten this far without a disapproving look or sigh. As I turned, I was thrilled I didn’t hit the cone. In fact, I was so far from the cone, I hit the curb. All my father could do was shake his head. To this day, I always hear my father’s voice in my head when I drive. His voice is so clear that even if there is not a car, I picture the bright orange cone.
By Gregory Morris â€œMy career began immediately after high school. I made the choice to go to work instead of going to college. That choice has worked for me until recently. I realize that I lost many things by not going to college. I realize that I am a loser.â€?
have been self-employed most of my career. I have been moderately successful in the advertising and real estate professions for many years. My career began immediately after high school. I made the choice to go to work instead of going to college. That choice has worked for me until recently. I realize that I lost many things by not going to college. I realize that I am a loser. I often view losing as bad. I define it as having something that is important to me, and then not having it anymore. It was my game to win, and I lost. I had my phone, and then I lost it. I lost the money in my pocket. Losing is not always a bad thing. Losing teaches me to value and appreciate what I have. Sometimes I wonder if I can feel a ―loss‖ for something that I never had. I moved back to Texas recently. I found myself in a position of having to start over. That is difficult for anyone, especially for someone in sales like me. I applied for many jobs. I had an interview recently for a salaried position. If I had been hired, I could have escaped the roller-coaster world of commission-only sales. My resume has an obvious void where ―Education‖ should be. The void screamed at the employer like the ―ghost of nothing‖ from my past. He was scared away. Regardless of how qualified, successful, or how much I have learned in the workforce, the lost job opportunities continue to haunt me. I wonder what opportunities I lost by not going to college. Money is not everything, but it is important. It is difficult to prove, but I know that I have lost money by not going to college. I see enough examples to know. I read articles that point out the salary differences between high school graduates and college graduates. I know that the salary for the job I did not get recently is higher than what I am earning now. It is painful. I feel the loss in my wallet and in my soul. I wonder what my earnings would be now if I had gone to college. Jobs and money are tangible. However, some losses are intangible. I am what some people refer to as ―street-smart.‖ I am self-taught, and I have a broad knowledge of many things. My career in sales has put me in many interesting situations. I have met with politicians, company presidents, community leaders, and others in high authority
positions. I have been a leader myself. I know how to handle myself in almost any environment. I can relate to many people on many levels. Nevertheless, I still feel like there are things that I do not know. I am not certain what those things are. I lost an opportunity to learn by not going to college, and I wonder what I would know now if I had gone to college. Another intangible loss that I have suffered is my pride, that sense of pride that comes from accomplishment. I have done many things in my life that make me proud. I have two wonderful children. I have awards for being a top-producer in sales. I have led several civic organizations. My peers selected me as ―Realtor of the Year‖ twice. I am proud of all of those accomplishments, but I still feel like I have lost something. I wonder what sense of pride I would feel if I had gone to college. I lost many things by not going to college. I realize that the only way to find what I have lost is to go to college. I enrolled in college recently. I look forward to finding what I have lost in job opportunities, money, knowledge, and pride. College is what I need. College is for losers.
Student Writers and Artists Wanted We are always looking for talented writers and artists for TCC Writes Online Magazine. You could have your work showcased for everyone to enjoy. Since Trinity River students are such incredible writers and artists, we look for every opportunity to promote your work. If you would like more information or would like to submit samples of your work, please stop by TREF 1402 or call (817) 515-1069. Who knows? You could be the next William Shakespeare or Jane Austen.
By Conner Moyer
I “Throughout my entire high school career, I trademarked and capitalized on the idea of mediocrity: I was never the smartest, never the most athletic, never the most congenial person and definitely NEVER number one at anything.”
n Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Ricky Bobby states that, “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” and I became accustomed to being “last.” Since leaving my home town, I have decided to incorporate a new mindset of striving for all that I can be rather than settling for being average. I have figured out that being average gets you to places, but going above and beyond average takes you places. One way I have taken myself places is by attending the Leadership eXperience Summits hosted at Trinity River Campus. The Summits focus on separating yourself from the crowd by becoming a leader. This mindset does not allow anyone or anything to come between your goals and dreams. The February 22nd Summit helped ingrain an even stronger opinion of go-getting in my mind. James Bird, the keynote speaker, started off his speech by standing up on the podium with a crisp $20 bill in his hand asking: “Who wants this?” Everyone’s hands went up in the air, but no one left their chairs. After repeating it a couple of times, a young man finally stood up, jumped up and down but never moved away from his chair.
After James Bird repeated, “who wants this” ten times in a row, a lady ran up to the stage and stood underneath James Bird with her hand less than a foot away from that $20. He kept saying, “Who wants this?” The woman finally just sat back down. Following what seemed like thirty more consecutive times of saying “who wants this?” someone finally ran up to him and took the money from his hand. Once that exercise was finished, Bird let us know that “Every day you are either progressing or slowing your integrity.” As he spoke that, it made me realize that only I can make my dream come true, and that I need to strive every day to make my dream an actuality. Luck seemed to be on my side that day while I was at the Leadership eXperience Summit, because after listening to Bird’s inspirational speech, I was given the opportunity to listen to two breakout speeches! The first, delivered by Steven LeMons, was about achieving goals. The second, delivered by Danelle Toups, was about achieving dreams. Steven LeMons, the head of the Writing and Reading Center, told us a great analysis about how being at the top of a high dive may reflect events that take place in our everyday lives. At the top of the high dive, you are on top of the world and nothing can harm you from where you are. As soon as you get pushed to jump, you are no longer at the top, and you’re flailing uncontrollably. Life becomes even harder once you hit the water, because you continue sinking until you decide to struggle against
the water. You know that in order to survive, you must swim up to the air if you desire to be able to breathe easy again. Steven LeMons went on preaching a great point of creating “a network of friends and professional colleagues who can help me” and through using “the power of association within my groups, assist in opening doors.” Hearing that made me realize that if I build professional relationships with my fellow students, faculty members, and employers, in the days when I need their help, they will be there to assist in resolving any issue I run into while achieving my goal. That type of networking not only empowers me but helps my cause. As Steven LeMons ended his speech, he provided us all with strategies for building professional relationships during every meeting, beginning with the Leadership eXperience Summit, with the intention of acquiring two business cards. Danelle Toups, the Assistant Director of Library Services at Trinity River, enthusiastically greeted me at the front door of the Connect room so that she could personally pass out an interactive paper for her speech. I filled in where my name was supposed to be and the paper read, “Conner’s Dream Plan.” Soon after Danelle started her speech, she exclaimed that, “I’m a person that when I dream, I go out and make it a reality,” and she also shared how she was able to make her dream of creating shoes from scratch come to life. Hearing someone confidently speak of achieving her dreams drove me bonkers knowing that I had missed out on tons of opportunities to make my dreams an actuality!
Danelle Toups instructed us to write down our dreams on our “Dream Plan.” She asked us to share them aloud so that we could find connections in the room to make them come to life. I proclaimed to the people in the Connect room that “I dream of hiking from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.” Although no one in the room had that same dream, Danelle coached me along the way of figuring out how to accomplish this, and the answer was as simple as saving up money so that I can take time off work!
“By asking for extra responsibility, I am holding myself to a higher standard of performance and excellence. To test the limits of what I can handle, I must push beyond those barriers first until I fail.”
James Bird described that the only way I can truly test myself to see if I’m ready to make my dreams come true is to “start taking on more responsibility than I think I can handle.” By asking for extra responsibility, I am holding myself to a higher standard of performance and excellence. To test the limits of what I can handle, I must first push beyond those barriers first until I fail. Tom Hopkins put it best when he said, “the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.” I know I made mistakes in the past by not trying to be the brightest, most athletic, most amiable, or the best at anything else during high school. I can credit this mediocrity to living in a town where the people bragged about the “unbelievable” record of having the second tallest grain elevators in the world, not the tallest. Because of my resilience and overcoming adversity, that three years ago, this sort of secondbest nature allowed me to develop an average dull life, rather than the successful bright future I am living today. Walking away from the Leadership eXperience Summit, I came to a conclusion that if I want something, I have to go out and grab it; no other person is going to motivate me better than myself. Like the changing of the seasons, my decision to capture a certain dream may alter but my resilience in overcoming those changes is completely up to me. If I want to reach my full potential and attain all the goals that I have set, I must be prepared for being the best and strongest even during the lowest and gloomiest days of my life. Only I have the power to change where my life is heading. I will seize the day and leave it behind, knowing that when I lie down to sleep, I am one day closer towards living out my dreams.
Original Leadership & Motivation poster by Angel Bresino
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By Eric Ruvalcaba
t is never an easy task to take an experience and put into a few words the amount of impact it has and will have upon us as we grow. At times we cannot appreciate the true significance of any given circumstance or event until the experience is over. At the end, however, we gain an important piece of the puzzle we call life. For me, that piece was found in the All-Star Leadership Program. When I take a look at the past year since the beginning of the program, I always like to reflect on what the initial start was like, its growth, and what the end result of the program ultimately was.
â€œThrough the All-Star Leadership Program, I was molded into the leader I never thought I would be. I now take leading roles with confidence, determination, and an open mind.â€?
As I began my upward academic journey, I had not given much thought as to what I wanted to accomplish. At the start of college, I began to take a firm grip on my life. I had no idea what I was supposed to achieve. My first year went by relatively well, and it served as an excellent opportunity to build a strong foundation for my academic success. My second year, however, soon showed its face, challenging my true willingness to rise above an expected turnout for me. That was when I learned about the AllStar Leadership Program. Upon further investigation of the program, I did not give it much thought simply because I had no idea what it meant to be a leader. However, I was already managing a student organization, so I knew I could not run from the chance to develop myself. I went through the selection process, which consisted of an application and an interview, and I had the good fortune of making the cut. Before the year began, those who made it through had to attend a two-day training camp. It was there I realized I would be dealing with a whole range of personalities, and it would be for a whole year! As the days grew into weeks, we slowly began to realize what the program would encompass. Unfortunately, some became overwhelmed. As our circle became smaller, those who remained became much more united. From volunteer work to rigorous workshops, we held each other up during the good and the bad times. It was tough but I was determined to reach the end, because the reward would be completely worth my input. My vision
and determination helped keep me focused on the prize, and no one would be able to stop me from achieving my goals. Even with all the hard work, we still were able to enjoy the process of development. The connection among us was strong, and that is what enabled us to continue our commitment to the program as well as to each other. In the midst of my progression, I learned to listen to my peers, as I knew they would strengthen my own ideas and perspectives. In the end, much more than I imagined to achieve became a reality. I met every challenge put in my path and gained an enormous amount of experience vital to future leadership roles. I gained a deep motivation to empower not only myself, but every individual around me who seeks personal development. I grasped most of the opportunities presented, and each experience has been and will be of great use in my life. I will use everything I gained from the program to become a strong leader regardless of the role in which I am placed. I will continuously strive to sharpen my strengths while improving on my weaknesses. I gained an incredible amount of confidence in myself, and I developed a set of skills I would not have received anywhere else. Through the All-Star Leadership Program, I was molded into the leader I never thought I would be. I now take leading roles with confidence, determination, and an open mind. I am truly grateful and honored for all the support from the amazing faculty and staff members, as well as some of the most incredible student leaders Trinity River Campus has to offer. ď‚˘
The Trinity River All-Stars from left to right are Ryan Jones, Mariana Garcia, Eric Ruvalcaba, Adrian Vasquez, James McDonald, Kevin Howard, Jorge Munoz, Anita Weddle, Yvonne Reyes, Norma Lopez, Ashley Mendez, Jessica Rodriguez, Ashely Guzman, Ariana Rodriguez.
The Center for Student Development and TCC Writes Online Magazine are proud to present our 2012 Trinity River All-Stars: Bottom row from left to right: Paola Romero, Stephanie Hernandez, Geraldo Hernandez, Karen Vera, Middle Row: Nathaniel Peoples, Edith Cervantes, Halden Griffith, Taylor Shaw, Top Row: Clinton Smith, Javier Atkinson, Tekesha Brown, and Phillip Schwab. The All-Stars are under the direction of Stevie Blakely, who is the Coordinator of the Center for Academic Success. Congratulations All-Stars.
Aaron Fields Aaron Wade Abby Jackson Abraham Leal Alexis Lohse Alicia Gonzalez Alyssa Austin Amanda French Amanda Gallardo Amanda Mills Amara Turner Amber Boring Amber Singleton Amy Karimi Amy Lunn Amy Weaver Angela Robinson Angela Schumacher Angela Wilmot Anissa Gonzalez Arianna Barajas Ashely Ford Ashley Davis Ashley Gibbs Ashley Johnson Ashley Kinsall Ashley Spoon Audrey Dossey Beckilynn Kernoschak Benjamin Rivera Bethany Smith Betty Spencer Billie Pierce Brakeisha Tatum Brandon Claridge Brandon Plemons Brandy Guilkey Brentley Grizzle Brian Piccolo Brittany Marshall Brittany White Caitlin Clark Carolyn Bartkus Carrie Young Cecilia Frias Cecilia Frias Cecilia Saldivar-Elizondo Celina Borjon Chadwick Pennington Chani Neff Chasity Downey Chelsea Ruffin-Hawthorn Cheryl Sohns Christel Huang Christina Chacon Christina Chacon Christina Holmes Christina Malchar Christina Palacios Christine Ealy Christopher Hasty Christopher Scarborough Christopher Twitty Christopher Wiles Cindy Smith Claire Davis Claire Sumption Crystal Gutierrez Crystal Hannemann Daisy Roman Daniel Fancher Daniel Zamora Daniela Serrano Danielle Bonds
Dannie Adams Darlene DeMet David Vest Deborah Jeffrey Deborah Scott Deidre Parsley Delta Thomas Denise Mills Dennys Arrieta DeVontee Rayford Diana Stout Dominic Ugar Donisha Taylor Donna Davis Dorothea Hill Dustin McPherson Elaine Gilyard Elizabeth Andrade Emily Hess Emma Hamilton Emman Busoul Eric Ruvalcaba Erika Platou Erin Casey Eugenie Navarrete Ezechial Adams Frank Sanchez Frank Smith Gary Fragosso Geisha Naumann George Paddock Geraldo Hernandez Zackary Gilbert Dollar Gregory Smith Haylie Cole Heather Myers Hector Moreno Gomez Heinrich Schander Hughitt Marley Hugo Garcia Ian Tanner Iris Cruz Jacalyn Martinez Jacob Scribner Jaime Flores Jairo Huaman Jakelin Loya JaMarkus Wilson James Bianchi James Klice James McDonald Jana Stukanov Janet Salinas Jared Cook Jared Harrison Jeff Mays Jeff Roberts Jennifer Bourgon Jennifer Chavez Jennifer Herrera Jennifer Horne Jennifer Turnwall Jennifer Wilson Jenny Prany Jeremiah Allen Jeremy Kiss Jessica Beasley Jessica Chapman Jessica Hoover Jessica Krizo Jesus Alaniz Jo Uveda John Frank John Miranda
John Morrison John Reeves John Sumners Jonathan Moreno Jordan Dunn Jordan Wright Joseph La Berge Joy Ebo Joy Stennett Joycelyn Sonnier Judith Olson Kailey Pardue Karen Vera Karina Garcia Katie Purvis Kayla Lynch Kelly Leggett Khong Bouapraseuth Kimberly Brents Kiney Couch King Hannah Kinga Forsyth Kirk Whitney Kreshnike Duraku Kristen West Kristina McDaniel Kudirat Babatunde Laura Walker Laurie Mitchell Lauriva Day Leandro Vereda Lee Shqeir Leslie Deherrera Libna Luis Lilly Espinosa Linda Lambert Lisa Theobald Lori Birman Louis Moreno Mable Kapyepye Madeline Timm Marcus Hatcher Maria Abreu Marie Wilhelm Maribel Moreno Mark McAllister Martha Chism Martha Valles Mary Thomas Max Gutierrez Mayra Sansen Medina Kristin Megan McDaniel Meghan Wheeler Melisa Ladinos Melissa Larabee Melissa Porter Melody McDaniel-Blair Mesing Marilyn Micah Patch Michael Davila Michael Gardner Michael Tran Michael Workman Michelle Grimes Michelle Mattingly Milam Lisa Miles Martin Miranda Mayeux Miriam Rodriguez Monette Forbus Monica Lopez-Alas Morley Wisner Nancy Velasquez
Nathan Anderson Nava Adam Ngong Kok Nicklaus Cloutier Nina Brower Noor Amiera Nora Nelson Nusrallah Ellena Olivia Williams Omar Rodriguez Pacheco Hector Patrick Johnson Perla Acuna Peter Lennarson Phillip Fooks Quintin Hernandez Rachael Williams Rachel Armstrong Rachel Wilkinson Rae Doss Rafael Varela Raquel Recio Rebecca Giles Reyna Valdez Rheanna McCollum Rindy Jingle Robert Jay Rory Calhoun Rudy Sandoval Russell Jones Ryan Jones Ryan Stovall Samantha Cripe Sameer Hasan Sandy Coleman Sanup Pandey Sarah Schrantz Sarah Thornton Scott Brown Shahmir Abbasi Shana Fikes Shaun Ruest Sheldon Cohen Sherwin Harrison Stephanie Conner Stephanie Saffle Stesha Colby Steven Marberry Summer Semmens Susan South Suzanne Hays Tanisha Cook Tara Magallon Taylor Teinert Teresa Wilson Terry Fuller Teya Kelly Theresa Watkins-Monteleone Tiffany Sitton Tim Volk Timothy Edmondson Torsten Cremer Tracy Rolland Travis Kipp Travis Rhoads Tyriibah Royal Tyson Hartley Urja Singh-Thakuri Veronica Laviolette Victoria Collins Zainab Lakhani Zamanda Martinez Zara Pearson Zayra Gonzalez
He achieved his dream. So can you. Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Achieving the Dream helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams. So donâ€™t give up on your dream. He didnâ€™t.
When Your Soldier Comes Home By Chelsea Slater Are you ready for your soldier to come home? Have you prepared their favorite meal in your mind? Desiring to have a romantic night in— Or out for a night of dancing? Planned to have the kids whisked away for a sleepover at a friend’s house? Are you ready to look at your solider— And you feel you don’t really know that person? Nor they you? Have you prepared to look into the eyes of someone— Who was only a shell of whom they were before? Knowing but not knowingIs a scary place to be—alone— With someone you love. Are you ready for the unknowns that your soldier is bringing home? PTSD, a physical or mental illness, a hidden drug or alcohol problem, or worse? Missing limbs or maybe just MIA? Are you ready for their death? Your loss— Your grief— Of a life cut short. The only way to be ready is to prepare yourself— Through prayer, meditation, rest— Whatever it takes for you to care for yourself so you may care for your soldier. A piece of advice? Think positive all the way through the journey of when— Your soldier comes home—
As a young lady, I heard my family members say, â€œThat girl has some pretty brown skin.â€? I used to love hearing about how beautiful my brown skin was until one day a doctor ruined the life I once enjoyed as a young adult, forever.
ave you ever taken a picture with your family and you did not like it, so you took more pictures until you got it right? It was like every time I took a picture I was happy with the results. I enjoyed my pretty white teeth, glowing eyes, and my brown sugar completion. I used to always be the first one who was eager to jump into a photo, not caring about what my outfit looked like, hair-style, or skin color. I just wanted to enjoy the memories with my family and friends the way I was. As a child and young adult, I was never ashamed of how I looked. When I was going out with friends, they would always cause us to be late because each would have to put on so much eye shadow, lip stick, eyeliner, and blush. I never had to do those things because my skin and features were naturally and radiantly beautiful.
“I could not believe what I saw after we got the pictures developed. I thought someone else was in the pictures with my children, but she was wearing the same exact outfit I was...”
Now, I will never be able to take pictures I truly appreciate because of my skin color. No, I am not talking about being ashamed of being African American, I am talking about pigmentation. Skin Pigmentation Disorder is a color abnormality that is affected by the adrenal glands. In 2008, doctors removed both my pituitary and adrenal glands. When I was operated on for the removal of my pituitary gland, I was admitted to the hospital for a month. Doctors said I also had a tumor, but they could not locate it because at the time I weighed 380 pounds. During that period life was very difficult for me. I was not over-weight due to eating too much, but because I had a hormonal imbalance. These imbalances caused me to become obese and
a diabetic. I also developed hypertension and Atrial Fibrillation, or an abnormal heart rhythm. While in the hospital, on many occasions I cried because my family was in Fort Worth and I missed being in their presence. I missed Grandparents’ Day at my granddaughter’s school, my daughter’s birthday, and just being around my husband. After my release from the medical center, I had an opportunity to go home for the weekend. Before my release, I was fitted with what is called a PICC line. A PICC line is a peripherally inserted central catheter. This device is used to supply medication intravenously for extended periods of time. However, I was just glad to be going home. The drawback was that I would have to go to one of the local hospitals in Fort Worth to get the PICC replaced. Unfortunately, only a day after I was sent home. One of my sisters had to drive me back to a Dallas hospital where, to my surprise, I was rushed in and prepared for surgery. I can remember one of the staff physicians asking me, ―Did your doctor explain what we are going to do?‖ I told him yes, and although he may have explained the surgery, there was never any mention regarding some of the side effects. Once out of surgery and recovery, I was sent home again. I had a follow-up appointment in late November. However, before my doctor visit my family and I had taken some pictures together. After the pictures were developed I could not believe what I saw. I thought someone else was in the photos with my children. The person was wearing the exact outfit I had; her hair-style was just like mine, but she was much darker. I finally asked my kids, ―Who was the woman in the picture with you?‖ They said it was me. Right then I wished they would have just let me die on the operating table instead of seeing myself as dark as I was. I couldn’t believe it. I looked absolutely nothing like I did before. After following up with the doctor who suggested I have the procedure, I asked him why was my skin was so dark? His
response was astonishing, ―Mrs. Shephard, it is because we removed your adrenal gland.‖ I then asked him why he did not tell me about this before I had the surgery. He rambled on, yet never had a good enough explanation for me. The only thing I could remember him saying was, ―Caucasian people would love to have your skin completion, because they would not have to tan.‖ Right then, my heart dropped when the so-called professional doctor stood in my face and told me something like that. I was devastated. The only reason I could think of for him not being completely honest with me was he was after my insurance money, because at that time I had one of the best medical policies one could have. This doctor could have just placed an order to send me back to one of the Fort Worth hospitals before he proceeded with my surgery rather than allow this to happen. I know for a fact that, regardless of my size, Fort Worth has some of the largest MRI machines. This could have helped me avoid having to experience all of the unnecessary surgeries. To make matters worse, since 2006, they have still not removed the tumor from inside me even though it has not gotten any smaller. To this day, I still get emotional because I realize how cruel some people can be. One day when I was in the neighborhood store, the owner said, ―Damn baby, if the police pull you over he is going to ask you for your green card.‖ When I visited my granddaughter’s school, because of me, the kids made fun of her so much that I just stopped going. I did not want her to continuously endure the teasing. On another occasion, a man said, ―Girl if you were in the islands, all the men would want you because of your dark skin.‖ I laughed with him, but I really wanted to go somewhere and hide and ask God why did he do this to me? As I sit here writing this article, my eyes are filling with tears because I remember who I once was. My advice to everyone is to be careful whenever you decide to have any type of surgery. Make sure that you get more than one opinion, and not by a physician affiliated with the same doctor you are currently seeing. Once the damage is done, there is no turning back; you are marked for life. Throughout this experience in order to get to this point in my life, I have still learned to speak positively to myself. My pastor once spoke about the power of positive thinking, because if you always speak negatively everything around you will become negative. It is for this reason I had to force myself to come from under the rock in order to embrace and love the person God created me to be, in spite of my dark skin color or what anyone else says about me. Whenever something goes wrong in your life that you cannot change, remember, you have to be the one who encourages yourself to crawl from under that hard rock and keep moving.
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By Raymundo Buggs
fter a couple hours of digging through the rubble, we finally made a hole that would lead us to what used to be a single family apartment. It was then that the decision was made to lower me with a rope and a flashlight to see if I could find any survivors. I did not think twice about it.â€?
It was just another day. My mother had been awake since five that morning managing the daily routine which involved ten children getting ready to go to school. The sounds of footsteps around the house were as familiar as the sounds that birds make when the sun touches them with warmth and greets them into a brand new day. It was just another day. September 19, 1985. The time was 7:00 AM, the place was Mexico City, and our lives were about to change forever. My brother Fernando had just finished brushing his teeth, and it was finally my turn to use the bathroom and continue getting ready. As I approached the door, I noticed my dog. She was crawling, shivering and terrified. I looked around and was unable to see or feel anything. But I knew something was very wrong. As I stared at my dog, I heard the sound. It was like thunder, but there was no rain or lightning to go with it. And then I felt it. The whole ground was moving in a way I had never felt before. When a person is born in Mexico City, he or she learns to deal with three things: pollution, traffic, and earthquakes. But this was no regular quake. This was the monster everyone had talked about for years but never knew exactly how to describe. Then the sounds changed. Screams around the house that pierced my ears and sent chills through my spine told me that I was not dreaming. My sisters were feeling it too, and they were hysterical. My father ran to the living room and did the only thing he could possibly do.
He stood right under the big chandelier and stretched his arms, sure that if it fell he would be able to catch it and save his precious fixture. I looked at him and knew then that he loved that chandelier more than he loved us. Either that or he had just lost his mind. My mother, well, she prayed. Looking at the different reactions made it all even more surreal. It felt like one of those dreams where amazing and ridiculous things appear to happen all at once, falling in place as musical notes from a masterfully composed symphony. But this was no ridiculous dream, and I was not going to wake up and find my mother in the kitchen waiting for me to come eat breakfast. I was not going to find my father fumbling with the keys to his car wondering where his briefcase was, or witness another one of my sister’s already famous performances in which she would try to explain why she got a bad grade again. This time was totally different, and I was not ready for what I saw next. Across the street from our house is the United Nations building. This enormous structure of metal and concrete proudly shows the entire city its splendor and magnificence with its more than forty levels. All of it was moving as if dancing to the most macabre song marked by the horrendous drum beat of debris falling to the ground. The concert of fear continued all around me, directed apparently by an invisible hand that, with the motions of a director’s wand, caused that building to move from left to right and from right to left in what seemed to be an endless concerto of chaos and destruction. And the sounds continued to change and with it the buildings around us continued to fall. A gray cloud appeared at a distance as if announcing the coming of something or someone so diabolical that the heavens preferred not to greet. I knew who it was. It was Death, and it was there to visit us that day and it had made itself at home, devastating those dear and close to us. I waited for our uninvited guest to take my family, but then it fled. Just as it had come it left. Its visit lasted sixty seconds. Later that day we would learn that it had been an 8.1 earthquake on the infamous scale. We also learned that seventy thousand people
were dead or trapped under debris. It was time for us to do something before our unwelcomed visitor decided to come back for seconds in this all-youcan-kill buffet. Other people followed, and the platoon soon turned into a brigade. There were dozens of people helping dig through the piles looking for survivors. It was amazing to see the collage of people united by a single goal. For the first time in my life I saw the people of my city working together. The rich were helping the poor, and the poor were helping the rich. There was no division. No social status. No degree. It was then that the decision was made to lower me with a rope and a flash light to see if I could find any survivors. I did not think twice about it. I just tied the rope around my waist and held the flash light in my right hand as my mother nodded, approving of the choice that had been made. As I began my descent, I noticed an unfamiliar odor. It was like putrid vomit or worst. Days later I would become familiar with it through my many visits to the make-shift morgue when we brought water and dead bodies to the workers there, but for now, that terrible smell almost made me turn back. That’s before I saw a woman who was holding what seemed to be a doll in her arms, protecting it. The woman was dead. The doll was a baby. But she did not die in vain. She actually sheltered her baby with her own body, taking the weight of huge pieces of concrete so that her baby could live. That was amazing. I could actually see with my own eyes the sacrifice that a mother had made for her child. Many times I heard my mother say, ―Oh, I’d die for you.‖ This mother literally did. What changed my life was not the earthquake itself. Nor was it the multitude of people who perished that day. Not even the many expressions of love that we showed to one another. What really changed my life was the look in the eyes of that baby. For it was not the look of fear but of peace. Peace that only those who have been touched by the power of love get to enjoy. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget that woman, whom I understand better today than I did before. But more than anything I will never forget that baby. It was the baby who taught me to dig hard in order to find the eyes of peace.
Student By Ryan Lanham
Desensitized to being around so much death, Clint recalls tossing the phone to his mom and saying, “Hey Mom, Rick's dead,” and continuing to play video games until it actually sank in.
A walk through the halls or cafeteria of TCC reveals a truly diverse student body; a myriad of ages, ethnicities, and personal styles populate the campus. What is not so obvious is the life experiences of these students. What stories do they have to tell? What has shaped them as individuals? Brief bios are invariably given as students introduce themselves, but sometimes it takes a sit-down conversation to grasp how pivotal events played a role in defining one’s peers. A conversation with Trinity River student Clinton Riggins IV dug deep beneath the surface to reveal a life before college that would change him forever. The year was 2002, and fresh out of high school, Clint made the decision that many brave Americans did after 9/11; he joined the Army. After completing basic training in Fort Benning, GA, he was sent to Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division—“The Screaming Eagles.” Like many military men, he was not the first, or last, in his family to join the service. His father was a former Coast Guard, his
grandfather served in WWII, and his brother, Richard Waller Price, would join the Marine Corps shortly thereafter. As an infantryman, and with war looming in the Middle East, it was inevitable that Iraq would soon be Clint's new home. At nineteen years of age, Clint was in the initial invasion of Iraq. This was not Iraq 2011. This was the Wild Wild West. There were no F.O.B.s (Forward Operating Bases), no supply points, no current maps, and no one had any idea of what this war would entail. After a long push north, Clint's unit settled into an area about 20-40 meters off the Syrian border. The Syrians were known suppliers of ammunition and weapons for the insurgents in Iraq. They were also known to attack the Iraqi border patrol huts. The U.S. was to provide security, under a strict “do not fire until fired upon” order. Clint's unit, a heavy weapons platoon with four Humvees, had witnessed the attacks, but could do nothing because they had not been fired upon. One night, this changed, and all hell broke loose. “Contact! Contact! We're taking anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian border just over the berm, 12
o'clock!” roared over the radio. All four guntrucks, armed with two MK 19 grenade launchers and two 50-caliber machine guns turned and unloaded a barrage of gun fire that rocked the target area for several minutes. Clint, armed with a M203 grenade launcher, proceeded to expel all of his remaining grenades. When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, the enemy had been terminated. Sadly, so had one American. The radios of one vehicle had been disabled in the chaos, and a soldier, running to relay this information to a sister vehicle, had taken sniper fire. For Clint, this was not to be his last experience with death. A separate paper, or perhaps book, could be written on Clint's war memoirs—stories of a friend surviving a bullet wound to the neck, grenades landing feet away with the firing pins still in, sleeping in a grave for protection, or various fire fights encountered. However, this is not that piece. It should be noted Clint survived two separate shots to the chest. Body armor saved his life, though the first broke a rib and the second shattered his protective plate. He was also involved in a roof cave-in which resulted in sciatic nerve injury to his back as he fell onto the collapsed rubble. These events are hard to fathom, but it was when Clint returned to the United States that the darker part of his journey began. A year after returning from Iraq, in Fort Campbell, KY, Clint reenlisted for four years to join the Honor Guard. This resulted in placement on Funeral Detail. Originally a six month rotation, Clint was forced to spend a total of three years on Funeral Detail. Covering sixty-eight counties in most of southeast Texas, Clint and his team performed over 2,000 funerals, with a record twelve in one day. Any former military member with a proper discharge is eligible for this type of burial, but it was when Clint buried so many young soldiers that he wanted to go back to combat. To make matters worse, it was during this time that Clint's brother, Richard, was killed in action in Iraq. Desensitized to being around so much death, Clint recalls tossing the phone to his mom and saying, “Hey Mom, Rick's dead,” and continuing to play video games until it actually sank in. The
death of Rick, compounded by the constant burials, nearly pushed Clint to breaking point. He volunteered four times for deployment before he was given orders. This time he was to deploy to Afghanistan and eventually become the driver for the NATO ambassador in Kabul. He describes this as a relaxed job, where his daily interaction was with soldiers from all over Europe. An Italian soldier on his team became a good friend, but tragedy was to strike again. While in a four vehicle convoy made up of two armored Toyota Land Cruisers and two armored Mercedes SUVs, an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) exploded under the vehicle in front of Clint. His Italian friend and a German soldier were both killed, and the shock wave from the blast reinjured Clint's back. To this day, he wears the dog tags of his brother and his Italian comrade around his neck. Experiences of this nature are not uncommon for soldiers, and most realize the risk they take when joining. How they deal with these events is their true test. Sure, Clint misses combat. He even says he prefers deployment to civilian life. All he's known of civilian life up to this point is through high school. He hasn't experienced the “real world,” as they say, but a bigger picture is coming into focus. College, he says, is helping him to realize that “there is more to life than death.” Larger goals are starting to emerge, as the memories of combat and army life are reorganized to provide room for education and planning. Motivated and disciplined, he is now pursuing his goal of becoming a U.S. Sgt. Clinton Riggins IV Marshall. Best of luck, Clint.
In his hands are ultimate power So gentile and mild They comfort in lifeâ€™s darkest hour Soft to the touch He picks me up In his hands his loving clutch In his hands, peace Tightly the cup
In His Hands By Mathew Dean
In his hands Are steadfast hope Burning like the brightest lamp He takes me in the hope I might call on him He waits For such a rare chance In his hands
Inspired by the Lord Our God
Why Am I Here? Finding and understanding your purpose.
By Nicole Slater
The age old question of “Why am I here?” remains unanswered. Many people ask themselves why they are in a particular state or why they are on Earth rather than another planet. Others, however, seek a more intellectual meaning of their purpose by searching for a philosophical meaning behind their existence. Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer. So with this I must ask myself, “Why am I here; why did God put me here, and why did I choose to go back to school to pursue my dream as a nurse this late in life?” I have often asked myself if I am doing what I am “supposed” to be doing? Of course, I understand that we all have a purpose, but I am not sure that I truly know what my purpose is. One reason for my existence could be that I am supposed to experience the harsh side of life so that I can be a promoter of what not to do—for instance, seeking love and acceptance from people I don’t know by joining a gang. Another reason could be that I am to learn from my mistakes so that I am able to sympathize with my children when they go through their phases. My purpose may not even consist of teaching myself something but to teach someone else something. My mother is not someone that anyone can consider a “good” mother. I moved out and had kids of my own, but I did not have the help from family that my mother had when I was a child, I have raised my children all on my own. My mother has witnessed this and has since grown to be a better person for the sake of her grandchildren. My final reason for my purpose in life could be that I am to teach others of my mistakes and guide them to take the better path in life, because they may not be as fortunate as I have been to make it this far. One
might ask me how far I have actually made it. I could say I have made it 31 years, but that wouldn’t really tell you much. Instead, I say that I have been in gangs, I have lived on the street at the age of 16 while pregnant with my first-born child, I have been mentally and physically abused by my mother, I have been raped by my step-brother, I have been involved in drugs and alcohol, and I have had numerous sexual partners without protection, but I have not had a sexually transmitted disease that could have possibly taken my life. Although I have experienced all this, and more, I have yet to allow myself to be defeated by negativity and give up on my dreams of becoming more than a statistic. I have always been fascinated by the medical field. I have also been just as fascinated by helping others and making a difference in someone’s life. No matter where someone goes to seek medical attention, it is the nurse that attends to the patient’s needs more so than the doctor. Once I recognized the importance of a registered nurse, I decided to make becoming one, my life’s goal. I may have gotten a late start in pursuing this dream by enrolling into college at 30 years of age, but I am here and I appreciate what college has to offer. This experience is not only going to get me to where I want to go, but it has also taught my kids to never give up and to focus on school. Everyone serves a purpose in life. We may not know or understand what that purpose is, but there is no right or wrong answer. I may not ever know exactly why I am here or why I chose to go to college this late in life, but I can only live life the best way I know how. I have kids to raise and dreams to pursue, so I must not worry about asking myself why, but instead push myself to do all that I can do to make the best of my life while I can.
By Melissa Porter
of the looks they give because of their personal thoughts on how you live
of the stress in your mind because of your fears of passing time
of all of the painful memories because of the loved ones who now fill cemeteries
of the days gone by because broken love can still survive
of the tears you remember you have lost focus on your center love will make you whole allow forgiveness to mend your soul Let go
Last Call By Meaghan Pugh
My habit of partying too much, too hard, and too late caused me to only get a couple hours of sleep...
ndoubtedly, my high school years were the dawning of a new era in my life. Like many teenage girls, my social life, physical appearance, and possessions seemed to be more important than my work ethic, education, and, frankly, my morals. I went through stages where I acted wild, selfish, disrespectful, and unappreciative. Ironically, a careless and irresponsible decision on my part liberated me. I had unintentionally rescued myself from the brat I had become. Thank goodness I did. Two years ago, I was unfortunately still stuck in my arrogant stage. I fully relied on the obnoxiously loud and repetitive ―BEEP‖ from the alarm clock on my phone to wake me up every morning. My mornings often started out pretty crappy because I had only a gotten a few hours of sleep the previous night. Thanks to the shots of vodka causing the freight train to run through my head, my habit of partying too much, too hard, and too late caused me to only get a couple hours of sleep. More often than not, I tried on two to three outfits before I could decide on what to wear. I probably wouldn’t have had such a hard time choosing if I hadn’t been going shopping for a new wardrobe once a week.
I constantly complained that the fifteen to twenty hours a week that I worked were cutting into my social life. I freaked out if I stepped on the scale and it was a pound over 110. I always made sure to remain under the speed limit, wherever I drove, because my ―stingy‖ and ―unsupportive‖ parents told me they weren’t going to pay for another ticket if I got pulled over. During the seldom occasions when my parents left town, our kitchen would have empty beer bottles scattered everywhere. I had a nightly routine I followed religiously; brush my teeth, wash my face, and catch a re-run of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit on TV before I fell asleep. My main and consistent annoyances back then were my mom and dad. I was convinced we were arch enemies, and they made all of their dumb rules just to make me angry. Flash forward to the present day, over a year and a half later. I ditched my routine of using my Blackberry as an alarm clock and have discovered something far more reliable and efficient: the shrieking cries and sobs from the next room. I can’t count how many exhausting mornings I have had in the last six months, even if I am in bed and asleep by nine. I spend seemingly endless hours during the night in a wooden rocking chair, softly singing until the only sound I hear other than myself is the ticking of the monkey clock hanging on the wall above me. I still have crappy mornings, but they are a different kind of crappy, the literal kind. Unless it’s my lucky day, I deal with a crappy diaper and a crappy bum that needs to be cleaned every morning. I’m still guilty of changing shirts at least twice before I head out the door, but not because I’m indecisive; my shirts inevitably end up with prune or carrot projectile on my right shoulder. I haven’t stopped my bad habit of shopping once a week, but my style has changed a little bit from tank tops, cut-off shorts, and little black dresses. These days, I’m a total sucker for onesies, cute little shoes, and long-sleeved pajamas with footies. I am no longer complaining about four shifts a week waiting tables; I quit that job and have moved on to another one. Nowadays, I am a chef, a maid, a teacher, a nurse, and a personal assistant for a very demanding little guy. He requires me to work 168 hours a week, no ifs, ands, or buts, and even if we are miles apart, I’m always on the clock. I’m not complaining about my social life anymore because I kind of forgot what it is. The weight thing is an issue I won’t even get into. Let’s just say I still get upset when I’m on the scale and leave it at that. I still make sure that I am always being a defensive driver, but a speeding ticket from a cop is the last thing I’m worried about. I carry the most fragile
cargo I have ever come in contact with, so I would never do anything dumb or illegal that would cause harm to the precious gift I have in my backseat. I will admit, every now and again my kitchen is still cluttered with bottles in every which direction. By bottles, I mean the blue, plastic, nine ounce bottles with nipples on top and drops of unconsumed formula lingering at the bottom. Contrary to my old lifestyle, I am lucky if I actually wash my face before I conk out. Law and Order, do they even play that on TV anymore? One aspect of my life that made a complete 180 degree turn is the way I view my parents. I have such an overwhelming amount of love, respect, gratefulness, and appreciation for everything they have done for me and given me. I now know their ―dumb‖ rules were to protect me, save me, or help me. Two years ago, if anyone told me they were living a life similar to the one I just described, I would feel so sorry for them. I do admit, some days are far from glamorous, but the difficult moments are forgotten the instant that little toothless grin appears and melts my heart. This is the lifestyle I chose for myself, and I wouldn’t trade or change a second of it for anything. The moment I saw those unexpected, and at the time, unwanted two pink lines, I accepted that I had to grow up, and I had to grow up right then. I accepted how chaotic my life was about to be. I accepted that my world no longer revolved around me, and I was never going to be the main priority. I accepted that it was mandatory and crucial for me to be mature, responsible, patient, nurturing, and strong. I accepted that there was going to be a living and breathing human who would be one hundred percent dependent on me to survive. I accepted that it was time to kiss my old life goodbye and kiss my new life hello. I did, literally. Six months ago, I was introduced to an innocent, angelic, six pound miracle. I am the same girl that I was two years ago. I have the same brain and the same heart, but I am nothing like the girl I was two years ago. I had to give up a lot, but I’ve gained the greatest blessing. Meagan was born and raised on Fort Worth’s west side. According to Meagan, ―between being a full-time student, mom and wife, I barely have time for much else. My grandmother, a published author, had me writing stories to pass the time at age six, and I have enjoyed writing ever since.‖ She also says that writing is therapeutic for her. Meagan plans to transfer to TCU next fall to obtain a degree in Journalism, and says she would love to have a career writing for media.
A Short Story By Sage Bevan
This is undoubtedly the highlight of my day. Standing trapped within this prison of a suit, sweaty feet encased in barely worn in dress shoes begging for freedom. This moment is the singular joy that will be brought to me today. Surrounded by metal teeth spitting out flavorless luggage, crowds of travelers seemingly happy but suffering from an inevitable bleary-eyed daze, I wait.
y job is to pose like a welcoming statue with clammy palms gripping a sign containing some letters I hope to pronounce correctly. Shifting from cramped foot to foot, I wait. Soon some poor, traveled soul will acknowledge my beckoning sign and expect to be promptly whisked away to a prearranged destination. Most typically, one would consider me a chauffeur of sorts or, in less delicate terms, a limo driver, a people mover.
-stained faces. These faces, two plagued with clusters of wrinkles, one young carrying an earsplitting grin amongst perfectly rosy cheeks, and the final a mask of reserved refinement save for the eyes brimming with tears of joy, these faces radiate a glow so pure and undeniable as they make the final connection. Eyes upon pairs of eyes meet and rush with such frantic energy it feels as though time itself has become a split being of opposing forces, fast and slow, forward and forward further until they all converge.
The highlight, the joy I am speaking of, doesn’t come from this monotony but appears in glimpses. Like I’m viewing frames of some mismatched cinematic dream, I get to remain the observer of an inexplicable beauty that only happens in receptors of the traveled. The airport remains the most significant venue for my viewing pleasure. In these few moments, I get to bear witness to the joyous encounters of travelers walking into open arms.
This assembly unites like the most holy of choirs as light pours throughout every single embrace, one by one, hug by hug, tear by salty tear. My heart explodes with radiance as I feel my throat constrict, begging to catch up with my senses and not allow my own tears to spill over. The moment is so fleeting in its brilliance that I am swept away into that euphoric sea without any thoughts of my own reality or anyone that surrounds me.
Today I watch from the gates of A22-28, sign poised in hand as throngs pour out, each pair of eyes searching beyond family after family for their targets. My first burst of glee happens as the light cascades upon my earliest treasure, a soldier. This young man can’t be more than two decades lived but carries the eyes of a grieving widow with only hints of hope glinting as he scans the crowd for solace. The only luggage in tow is strapped to his back as the lonely evidence of the burdens he carries home. There is no standing at attention for this boy, only a hunched figure bearing the weight of the ghosts that follow. This is that moment when I hold my breath in anticipation as I watch this young man wander through the audience to a group of puffy, tear
Ever so abruptly, the moment ends, the seas subside, the family exits as one beaming entity, and I am left with only my pounding heart, retreating tears, and this sign. This sign is my weighty dose of what reality looks like from where I stand. I position myself with more balance than before, hoping for one last burst of elation to overtake me before my stranger with the strange name appears. Until that moment when the stranger floods my vision, I wait.
A conversation with former TCC student Haylie Cole
ife is truly wonderful! It begins at birth as a rambling overture-beautiful, innocent, and free. It soon crescendos into an incredible symphony, complete with strings, percussions, horns, and woodwinds. In time, each movement becomes beautifully executed, touching every part of our emotions, culminating into wonderful experiences we know as happiness. However, being happy, experiencing love, contentment, and joy are not rights, but are gifts that are greater than any negative event or circumstance that seeks to destroy them. Life does not always promise us that each day will bring us happiness or joy. In fact, life is filled with many challenges, challenges that sometimes find us in what seems like the eye of a never-ending storm. This side of life is called adversity. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Haylie Cole, a Trinity River student who not only experienced the darker side of life through her battle and near death experiences with drugs, bulimia, and alcoholism, but the toll her experiences took on her family as well. I find Haylie to be a beautifully gifted and talented young woman who is not only a fighter but someone who, through courage, a strong belief in having a purpose, and the love of her family, fought back from near death to become a student scholar selected to the Trinity River Deanâ€™s list. Her interview is brutally honest, emotionally charged, and incredibly inspiring. Haylie believes if she can share her story with others, there is a purpose in her adversity. Here are excerpts from our conversation.
SL: Good morning Haylie, thank you for coming. I appreciate you being here. Haylie: I am glad to be here. SL: Where are you from? Haylie: I was born in Aledo, Texas, and lived there until my eighth year of school. I attended Trinity Valley. SL: What kind of school is Trinity Valley? Haylie: It is a private school. I wasn’t the smartest kid like I was used to being, so I ran from it. That’s become kind of a theme in my story: when I’m no longer the best at something, then instead of picking through it, I just quit. Growing up, my parents were amazing—absolutely wonderful people. Both of them were rarely around their parents. My mom’s father was an alcoholic and a drug addict, and so I think they wanted my brother and I – he’s 25 now, older than me – they just wanted our lives to be the opposite of what they had growing up. We were pretty much handed everything and given every opportunity. I think that, subconsciously, I felt like I was given so much, all I wanted to do was give them back the daughter that I felt like they deserved. When I wasn’t perfect or the best at something, then that just wasn’t good enough. That wasn’t even spoken to me by my parents; that never came out of their mouths. It was just something I acquired on my own. SL: So what did your parents do for a living? Haylie: My dad was a bodyguard for a wealthy businessman. He is the owner of his own company. He had two jobs, so he wasn’t around as much growing up because he worked so hard. My mom worked part-time as an orthodontist’s assistant and she still does as a day job. Then we moved to Brock, Texas, a small town west of Weatherford. Pretty much all we did was play basketball. I went there my freshman year and lost my world. It was the first time I’d ever been kind of dazed and found out I didn’t fit in. That’s actually where my eating disorder started. SL: Was that part of the perfection thing? Haylie: Oh, definitely. I think I felt like I had lost control of every aspect of my life, so that’s in control: the intake of food and what I could do to my body that nobody else could change or effect. Also, I didn’t want to grow up; my childhood was darn near perfect. I think I thought by losing that weight and maintaining kind of a child-like figure, I could hold onto one part of my childhood. It’s a pretty amazing disease. It was awful. SL: What about your friendships at that time? Haylie: I was such a loner. I had never been before; I was always outgoing and always an extrovert. I put all my energy into the anorexia at that point. I heard somebody saying growing up that stomach pains equal lost weight, so I would see how long I could go with my stomach grumbling and yelling at me to feed it. That was kind of a game for me. After my freshman year at Brock I went back to Trinity Valley my sophomore and junior year. I started bulimia at that point.. SL: When you saw food, what did you see? Haylie: Fear. Food was an enemy. It was a weakness. It was self-esteem. It was an identity. It had just become part of who I was. My sophomore and junior year, it got a lot better because I was hanging out with friends more and basketball wasn’t so traumatic. My sophomore and junior years were better, but I still wasn’t me, and I knew that. I think I took my first drink of alcohol the end of my sophomore year. Since my grandfather was an alcoholic, I always told myself growing up, ―I will never drink. I will never do anything like that because I know how it affected my mom.‖ And I did. It wasn’t a big deal until I got drunk for the first time. I was like, ―This is amazing.‖ I got to forget everything: all the pain, or any imperfection.
Haylie Cole SL: So it was like an anesthetic? Haylie: Yeah, kind of; however, I wasn’t an alcoholic yet. I did it every once in a while. It was a treat more than anything. My junior year I was drinking a little more than sophomore year, but it was still manageable. Senior year, I don’t know what I was thinking. I had gotten much prettier and become more of a woman, so I guess I wanted to prove myself to the people at Brock, and I went back my senior year. It was absolutely horrible. I got a bad reputation from the start. I wasn’t a goody-goody anymore. I had a foul mouth, I drank. SL: Where did that persona come from? Rebellion, anger; I was definitely angry with my parents for not preparing me for the pain in the world that I had no idea was there. I was always sheltered and protected growing up. To find out that people were mean, things were hard, and I would have to make choices on my own was awful. I wasn’t ready for it. I think the alcohol and rebellion period is how I broke out. SL: Did your parents know at this point? Haylie: Not yet. They did know about the bulimia, and I did have to see a therapist for a little bit, but my parents just had blinders on the whole time. They didn’t want to see what was going on and I understand that. No one wants to see that and face it. SL: When they saw the weight loss did they think that was just a phase? Haylie: At first they thought that it was just puberty. Then they started realizing. One night my dad made me eat soup in front of him. That just blew my lid. I was furious. That confrontation happened between my dad and it never happened again. My senior year, I got my first love. He was not really a good guy. He was a partier. The thing with him was, he took the place of my eating disorder. So for a full year, I didn’t have an eating disorder. I ate normally. That was great. However, I became addicted to him. After senior year was over, the drinking really started. I got a job at the golf course we lived on as the beer cart girl, which I was fabulous at. I ended up getting fired from that job because I was drinking while working. That’s how I started my freshman year in college. I went to school to party. I did not go to school for education, whatsoever. I had pretty much made all A’s my whole life and I didn’t care anymore. I was just done. SL: What were you done with? Haylie: Trying. I think I was lost. I had no direction, no sense of who I was, what I was, or where I was, and I just drank. I was never close with my father. I think that the love and acceptance I wanted from him, I tried to find elsewhere. I was at school for the first week, I think, and then I stopped going. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t care. About November, my parents found out. SL: Did they not know you weren’t going to school? Haylie: They did find out that I wasn’t going to school, and there was no consequence. We never had consequences. My consequence was moving back home and getting a job. Unfortunately, the last week I was at Tarleton, I went to a party. I walked in the back room and a guy was snorting something. Turns out it was Adderall. I was talking to him, and he asked me if I ever tried cocaine before. I said, ―No, but I’ve always wanted to.‖ I did cocaine and from the first time I did it I was hooked. That was my answer to everything I wanted thus far. It allowed me to not eat, it allowed me to not drink; I just wanted to be numb, and that’s exactly what it did for me. So I basically did cocaine at 18. I got a job at a daycare, so I was working at a daycare on cocaine. I didn’t care about anyone else. I didn’t care about anything except getting high. I was at home one night, and I guess my mom had been through my wallet. I had cocaine in there. I was required to go to a rehab center. I went to Orange County to a treatment facility. Phenomenal! It was a beautiful place. I did not go to get sober. I did not go to get healthy. I did not go to get well. I went to please my parents.
Haylie Cole SL: So everything that was provided to help give you direction, you saw something different in it… more as a means of getting what you wanted? Haylie: Exactly. The definition of selfishness would have had my name next to it for sure. ―Okay, I’ll do that,‖ and all the time you’re thinking, ―Hmm…what can I get?‖ Right. I was so incredibly manipulative. It was awful. SL: Was that part of the drugs, or part of who you were as a person? Haylie: I think both. I think mainly as a person. I can’t blame it on drugs. I was not well. I went to California for three months in intensive treatment. I went to AA there, and Cocaine Anonymous meetings; I just laughed myself through them. I got caught drinking in treatment a couple of times. I’d put vodka in my coffee or something to stir things up, because I didn’t care. They let me stay on my (medicine) because I had ADD, but I didn’t really. It was just a stimulant, like Adderall. I thought, ―I’ll just snort that and get my rebellion fix.‖ I was in rehab for two or three months, and then I went to a halfway house for about 6 months. In the halfway house I did meth for the first time. I also did heroin for the first time; I smoked it, then I shot it. So, I had used a needle for the first time. I got caught once and was kicked out for about two days, then allowed to come back. How did you get drugs into the halfway house? Haylie: I didn’t. We had to get jobs, so I had a job; after work I went to Santa Barbara with this guy and he shot me up for the first time. I got sick, because heroin can make you sick, but I was completely numb. It was, at that point, amazing, because I didn’t feel, and that was perfect. However, heroin’s not easy to get. I convinced my parents after nine months there I was better and ready to come home. So I came home, got a job at Pappadeaux’s, and immediately started using ecstasy, which was new; I hadn’t done that before either. I became addicted to ecstasy; I was popping six or seven pills a day. Normal people take one and they’re good to go, but my tolerance was well off. At one point I found a lady who had extra needles, so I was shooting up ecstasy and cocaine, and all this stuff, while living with my parents. After three or four months, they knew something was up. I had lost a lot of weight again because of the ecstasy. I had started becoming mental. I guess it was the first time I had ever seen the effects mentally. I kind of thought I was schizophrenic. They sent me to my second treatment facility in Kerrville, Texas. Again, I went for my parents. I didn’t go to get well; I didn’t think I could get well. When people say they have lost all hope, I had lost all hope in myself completely. Heroin detox is physically terrible, but ecstasy detox is beyond horrible, both mentally and physically. My skin was crawling, I was seeing things. It was awful. SL: So would you say that this was the beginning of your turn around? Haylie: I think my eyes were open a little bit. In treatment, I did better than I had ever before but the bulimia came back during treatment. SL: So what was your lowest weight? Haylie: My lowest was 88 pounds, but at this point my weight was normal. I was about 140, 145. Most bulimics are normal weight. It’s hard to tell a lot of times with bulimia. Anorexia, you can tell, but bulimics generally are normal weight. So, after my month there, I went to an eating disorder place in Austin for thirty days and did really well. I did the best I had ever done, but it was because we were really secluded. I also quit smoking there.
Haylie Cole I went to AA on my own for ninety days, which was a huge thing for me. I hadn’t been sober a day in the past 3½-4 years. After about 90 days in AA, I got a phone call from a guy in one of my treatment centers. He said, ―I’ve got some stuff. I’m right across the street.‖ I don’t know how he knew where I was. I was living with my parents. I’m like, ―It’s three in the morning. I wanted to get high more than anything in the world. I don’t know what he has.‖ SL: But did it matter? Haylie: It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how good I felt, or how well I was doing, all he had to say was, ―I’ve got some stuff.‖ I went and met him at 7a.m. the next morning; told my parents I was going to a 7a.m. AA meeting; he had crack cocaine, the only thing I’d never done before. My search was over. It was exactly what I was looking for. It was a high like I had never had with anything. It was the worst of the worst. I was definitely addicted, immediately. I spent $700 a week. I had a job at a daycare again. Every single dime I had went to crack. I was looking through blinds, opening doors, going to gas station bathrooms. I had passed out in a couple of gas station bathrooms from overdosing. One time I hit my head on the paper towel dispenser; I don’t know how long I was in there. I was done. I was alone. I had nothing left. This is where all the weight loss started. I lost 30 about pounds in a month. My parents thought I was back in anorexia mode. I guess this went on for about three months doing crack daily until I was kind of crazy. My mom had gotten my deposit slip from the bank and saw that I would withdraw my $700 at one time from an ATM. SL: Were the withdrawals from her account or yours? Haylie: Mine. It was my money, which doesn’t make it OK. She came to me and was, like ―What is going on?‖ I couldn’t lie. For some reason – it had to be the grace of God I told her what was going on. She was like, ―What are we going to do?‖ I said, ―I’ll stop.‖ And I actually did. I stopped crack. I still had my ADD medicine, which my parents didn’t know I was getting from my psychologist. That was keeping me going. SL: How long had you been seeing a psychologist? Haylie: Six months. I had been to a million therapists and psychologists. At this point in my life, I was 99 pounds. For the next month my eating disorder looked like that. (Haylie takes out picture of herself taken during one of her lowest weights – approximately 88 pounds.) The next month I didn’t eat at all. I ate cauliflower and broccoli. Those were the only two things I allowed myself to eat. I couldn’t move or bathe myself very well, because I was very weak and every inch of my body hurt. By this time, my parents were, like, ―You’re about to die.‖ And I was. I needed to die. I wanted to die, but I couldn’t, for my parents’ sake. I couldn’t allow that to happen to them. I had to wait a month to get into a treatment facility for my eating disorder. I went to the best one in the U.S., in Arizona. My eyes were open a lot more. I didn’t want to be a drug addict anymore. I didn’t want to be an alcoholic anymore. I stopped taking all medications except for an antidepressant. SL: What did they say that made your eyes become more open? Haylie: I think I had seen death so many times through heroin overdose, and through crack overdosing, constant blackouts, and numbness in my body, because I weighed 88 pounds at 5’9‖. My hair was falling out in clumps. I was knocking at death’s door. I think that through my parents’ love, I saw a glimmer of hope. If they can love me, there is something going on. During the entire interview Haylie shows a courageous and assertive strength I often found myself admiring. She shares her story as if the very act of sharing has itself become liberating. Until now. At this point Haylie’s emotions overtake her and become more than she can bear. Her voice begins to tremble as she breaks down and gently weeps.
Haylie Cole Even if I don’t see my purpose in life right now, there is something. If someone can love you that much, it’s worth all that. I had given all my reason for living at this point to God, to Christ, and to my parents. I could not have made it without my parents. In treatment, I did really well. I gained forty pounds in three months, which is a lot to put on someone’s body. It hurt. Gaining weight hurts really bad. For the first week, I cried at every meal. I was terrified of what the food was going to do to my body, and terrified of the control I was giving over to these people. SL: So, still, even at this point, it was about control. Haylie: It was still about control. Still fear. I was terrified of what was next. I had an identity in an eating disorder for the past eight years. I had a body that people always complimented me on, ―How do you stay so thin?‖ So my identity was in a body and in an addiction. To give that up, who was I? I didn’t know. All of that amounted to a cracker that I was about to put into my mouth. That was hard. I purged twice in treatment. I was purging four times a day at one point. So, twice in a month was pretty good. I went to a halfway house for patients afterwards for six months. SL: Was this in Arizona? Haylie: Yes, I grew a lot spiritually, and had a lot of time with myself that I had never had, sober. I was an addict through and through. In the halfway house, I kind of got addicted to gum, actually. I was chewing three packs of gum a day. It was just something tangible that I could hold on to, I think. In that stage, a lot of girls with eating disorders get addicted to diet sodas, gum, and coffee, just to have something to hold onto. SL: It’s like a pacifier right? Haylie: Exactly. Like a blankie or pacifier, which is funny because it’s a thing from childhood. In a sense, it all stems back to that. I left the halfway house after three months and came back home. When I first came back, it was too much too soon. I did start cutting back eating a little bit. I started purging again, and eventually after a month I drank. I was twenty-one, at this point I went to a bar. I think for the first time in my life. Nothing good came out of it. My last drink and drug before I officially quit was cocaine, ecstasy, and vodka alcohol. It was horrible. I got kicked out of my house the next day. I was homeless for the first time in my life. For my parents, it was the hardest thing for them to ever have to do, to kick their child out. At this point, Haylie breaks down again. Haylie: They didn’t have a choice, if I wasn’t going to get well. They had done everything. They had paid thousands and thousands of dollars on treatment for me. There was nothing left to do. I remember packing my bags, and my mom was bawling in the room next to me. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to hear and see. It was disappointment and fear. They had lost me. That was the first time they had ever seen maturity in me. I said, ―This was no one’s fault but my own.‖ I found a place to stay that night with a family from our church; they are wonderful people. They have four little girls. I think I got to see youth in them and the joy they had. I knew that I could still have that joy even though I’m an adult; even though things are hard and I have to make choices on my own and live on my own, there is still joy in this world. My eyes began to open. I ended up moving in with my grandmother, although I had never really spent any time with her. She’s stubborn just like I am, so we bicker. It’s perfect. She doesn’t throw parties, and it doesn’t get too crazy over there. I’ve had to grow up, and my parents have had to let me. I have wanted them to step in so many times, because it’s gotten hard. I am an addict, I’m an alcoholic, and I have an eating disorder. I have all these things that were supposed to kill me, but I’m still here. I know there’s a reason why. I have to work so hard every day to grow and I’ve learned to appreciate everything. It’s a humbling experience to have gone through some of this.
Haylie Cole SL: I admire you; you are very courageous. For one, just being here today with TCC Writes, sharing your story with people you do not know, but many whose lives will be changed by reading about you. You will truly be a catalyst in helping them change their lives in a powerful way. Haylie: I just want people to know that there’s another way to live. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know there was hope. I didn’t know that there was recovery. I didn’t know that there was joy in this world. I know there’s a reason I went through all this. I know God’s got a plan for me. I have to know that, because that’s recovery. I want people to be able to come to me, be themselves, be real, and know that there’s no judgment. Who am I to judge? That’s one thing that I have learned through this. I’ve been able to become so humble and nonjudgmental toward people. I’ve come across some people that have rubbed me the wrong way. The first thought that comes to my mind is, ―What are they going through or what have they been through that makes them that way?‖ I know there’s something behind those eyes and behind that anger. I was ugly once and I was in pain once, and it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. I want children and teenagers and high schoolers to see that alcohol is not fun. It’s not something to glorify. SL: In seeing images on television and the images people see of celebrities, where do you see it all going for young people? Haylie: We tend to do what celebrities do. We dress like they dress, or act like they act. That’s what we see. That’s what people look up to. For some reason people think they’re better than normal people. It’s embedded in us. Even today I will look at a magazine and be like, ―I’ve got to look like that or somebody will not love me.‖ SL: If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? (Long pause) Nothing. Who am I to say that God made my plan wrong? SL: To play devil’s advocate, some young people may read this and say, “Oh, she is just a whiner. Her parents gave her everything. I grew up with nothing. My life’s tough. What does she have to be upset about? Those were her choices.” What advice would you give them? Haylie: I’ll admit, I have thrown pity parties for myself, I try not to anymore. Those were my choices. I think that people have every right to say, ―What is she complaining about? She had everything growing up.‖ It’s true, I did have a wonderful childhood. I’m not upset about that at all. I chose the path that I took. I went through a lot of things I didn’t have to go through on my own accord, but regardless of whether your childhood was good or bad, everybody has a choice. Everyone has the choice to make the decisions they want as an adult. I can’t change people’s past and I can’t change my own past. I can only grow from here and help other people along the way. I should be dead right now but I’m not. I think everybody has their own entitlement to judge and to have their own opinion. That’s fine, but if I can help one person through this, then I’ve done my part. SL: Well, I have said it before: I think you are an extremely courageous person. And you are right, there is a reason for everything you have gone through. We are looking forward to seeing the incredible things you will accomplish. You are truly an awe-inspiring person. I sincerely appreciate you taking time to share your story with us. Haylie: You bet!
2006 - Haylie at 18, at her high school dance
2009 - In treatment in Arizona. Weight 90 pounds 2009 - Haylie still in Arizona at 90 pounds 2011 - A beautiful, happy Haylie at age 23 and 130 pounds
Time is a circle a circle a circle
made of redundancy upon redundancy. The eternal encompassed by a sphere, neither big nor small unto itself. It simply is. Keep your particle waves and your time machines. They are useless in the now And everything is now always now. There is no past nor future, only now. Everything Everything Everything occurs at once in one instant one heartbeat one breath. Families fall and rise and Romeo lies bleeding on different sides of the sphere. Dead friends and relations are not really dead, not truly dead not even in another room. They are on the other side of this room (behind the couch, look) behind the couch. They are now, and so am I. Perception of time is nothing. Definition of time is impossible. Containment is a wasted effort. One cannot capture or quantify the now not now not now not now not ever. (Did you see what I did just then? How 'bout now?)
Time cannot be wasted or rushed. It is not of the essence. Daylight might be burning, but time is as immune to immolation as asbestos and every bit as deadly. Time waits for no man but carries us all with it. We are always on time in time about time There is no time for it to be any other way. How does it feel to be dead eventually? How does your life look when held up to the light of a perpetual and infinitely undefinable eternity? Hammer time Miller time End time Go time marches on and on and on and on, farther than the mind can see. Off into the sunset, time marches on.
Student Art Exhibit
Professor Angel Fernandez and the Communications and Fine Art Department showcased some of the best in Trinity River student artwork. The Reflections From the River Student Exhibition brought together unique and diverse student works in pencil, charcoal, ink, and collage. The works were on display from April 1st through May 3rd.
Previous page, Will Rogers Coliseum, by Canh Tiet, graphite; top left, Self-portrait, by Valarie Salazar, pencil; top center, Johnny, by D. Reinhardt, collage; top right, Self-portrait, by Kynda Franklin, pencil; middle left, Jesutriste, by Joksan Holguin; pencil; middle right, Self-portrait, by Rachel Keefer, charcoal; lower left, Nope, by Brandon Tucker, oil pastels; lower right, Current exhibit in the Trinity River Art Gallery.
To all Trinity River student writers, staff, faculty, administrators, contributors, and countless supporters of TCC Writes Online Magazine, who help make this magazine a success, thank you for your contribution and dedication. Student Writing Contributions C. Monday, Chelsea Slater, Conner Moyer, Dana Reid, Eric Ruvalcaba, Gregory Morris, Hana Jaafari, Haylie Cole, Josh Noble, Madeline Paddock, Mathew Dean, Meaghan Pugh, Melissa Porter, Nicole Slater, Pamela Shephard, Raymundo Buggs, Ryan Lanham, Sage Bevan Student Art Contributions Canh Tiet, Kynda Franklin, Brandon Tucker, D. Reinhardt, Joksan Holguin, Rachel Keefer, and Valarie Salazar; special thanks to the Trinity River Communications and Fine Arts Department and Professor Angel Fernandez Photography Credits Shawn Stewart and Steven LeMons Editors Casey Mitchell, Maggie Engel, and Shawn Stewart Faculty Editor Dr. Jim Schrantz Managing Editor Steven LeMons Special thanks to these organizations and their sponsors The Trinity River All-Stars, Sponsor Stevie Blakely, Beta Sigma Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Sponsors Justin Brumit, Tyson McMillan, and Candace Eldridge Additional Contributions Angel Briseno, Drs. Bryan Stewart, Jim Schrantz, Scott Robinson, and Tahita Fulkerson, The English Department at Trinity River Printing The Trinity River Campus Copy Center For more information or to submit a writing sample to TCC Writes Online Magazine, please email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Writing & Learning Center at TREF 1402.